Financial counselling funding cuts reversed

THE State Government has reinstated funding for financial counselling services but the City of Stirling says it is still not enough to help those in need.

Stirling community services manager Chris Brereton said the $2 million funding was “significantly lower” compared to $4.2 million across the metropolitan area previously.

“There were 12 financial counsellors in the North Metropolitan region prior to the changes and at best there will now be four to manage an increasing number of people in need,” Mr Brereton said.

He said the City was “absolutely devastated” by the decision by the Department for Child Protection and Family Support to cut all financial counselling services in June.

“It was clearly a budget-|driven decision by the Department without any understanding of the value of the service and the serious hardship it would place on people needing this assistance at a time of economic and financial decline,” he said.

Mr Brereton said the City would work with the Government and other providers but remained concerned about meeting the demand for services.

“The Government has taken one step towards rebuilding a highly valued service but there are a few more steps to be taken before we really have a win for communities,” he said.

Community Services Minister Tony Simpson said the Government had worked closely with representatives from the financial counselling sector to develop the new funding model.

“We listened to the sector and acknowledge they had concerns about their ability to support vulnerable people through a financial counselling telephone advice line only,” Mr Simpson said.

WA Local Government Association president Lynne Craigie said the organisation welcomed the funding reinstatement after negotiations with the State Government.

“Following the defunding announcement, we sought urgent discussions with the Minister for the affected local governments to discuss the impact on communities and what the loss of this service would mean for vulnerable people experiencing financial stress,” Cr Craigie said.